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From Accused to Vindicated: Dismissal of All Charges Against Wrongfully Accused Temple Football Player

By: DBHWebGPEFF

PHILADELPHIA, PA. October 7, 2013: There is finally vindication for former Temple University football player, Praise Martin-Oguike, who lost his football career, his scholarship and his dignity. His record is now clean. Praise Martin-Oguike says it has been 17 months of hell. “It’s been tough. I don’t even know how to explain it. It’s somewhere that nobody wants to be.”

It began on Memorial Day Weekend 2012. He was 18 years old at the time and was accused by the 21-year-old fellow student that he was dating at the time, of raping and assaulting her inside a dorm room on Temple University’s campus. The freshman Temple Owl linebacker was ostracized, stripped of his athletic scholarship, kicked out of Temple and vilified nationally and on the internet.

“Everything that went on Twitter and all over the internet, it was just tough to handle for me. When it first happened, I didn’t know what to think; I didn’t know where to go. I just kept trusting God and that’s what kept me through,” Martin-Oguike said.

Martin-Oguike’s lawyer James Funt, a partner at Greenblatt, Pierce, Engle, Funt & Flores, says it wasn’t until they secured his accuser’s phone records and internet chats that the truth was revealed. “Thousands of texts, thousands of chats to close confidantes that ultimately revealed exactly what we had said from the beginning, that these were false allegations,” defense lawyer James Funt said. Mr. Funt said charges were dropped after a review of the woman’s text messages with her friends indicated she was not truthful about being raped.

Praise says he holds no grudges against his accuser. “I got to look at it in a positive way. It made me a better person. I learned a lot from the whole experience and moving forward,” Praise said.

The district attorney’s office has not said if it will pursue criminal charges against the woman for making false allegations. Praise Martin-Oguike says while he has not heard back from Temple officials, he hopes to be able to return to the university and eventually attend medical school.

All Charges Against Temple Football Player Praise Marin-Oguike Dismissed

By: RDKInteractive

PHILADELPHIA, PA – October 7, 2013: Today all charges against Praise Martin-Oguike were dismissed. For the past 18 months, this young man has lived under a terrible cloud. After being branded as a rapist for a crime he did not commit, he was ostracized, stripped of his athletic scholarship, kicked out of Temple University and vilified nationally and on the internet. The stain on his reputation and the impact on his life will never be completely erased. From the beginning of this case, we maintained that Mr. Martin-Oguike’s was completely innocent. We said then, and have been proven right today, that he was the victim of a woman who was determined to destroy him simply because he would not agree to have a romantic long-term relationship with her. A full forensic examination of her cell phone revealed the true nature of who she is, and the completely consensual nature of her sexual relationship with Praise. When looked at in conjunction with the medical information, it was clear the complainant’s story was simply not true. Thankfully, when the prosecution finally looked at the evidence we provided, they made the only just choice, complete dismissal of the charges. While we appreciate the decision made today, we are saddened that it took 18 months for them to do the right thing. Every piece of this exculpatory information was available before Praise was arrested, and but for our investigation, an innocent man could have been convicted, sent to prison, and forced to live the rest of his life as a registered sex offender. This case never should have resulted in an arrest and prosecution and if it can happen to honorable young man like Praise Martin-Oguike, it can happen to anyone. Unfortunately, there is no way to turn back the clock. These allegations will remain with Praise for the rest of his life, enshrined on the internet for anyone who cares to look. We urge the District Attorney’s office, and the sex crimes investigators to do a better job at the inception of these cases and we urge the press to shout from the roof tops Mr. Oguike’s innocence as loudly and as widely as they trumpeted his assumed guilt at the time of his arrest. James A. Funt, Esquire Greenblatt Pierce Engle Funt & Flores 215-735-1600 Founded over 20 years ago as an aggressive criminal defense law practice, Greenblatt, Pierce, Engle, Funt & Flores (WGP) is an established, full-service law firm with experienced attorneys skilled in all areas of state and federal criminal defense, employment law, civil litigation, and family law. The firm has offices in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information on the firm or its attorneys, please see www.gpeff.com. For more information regarding this release, please contact Ronald Greenblatt at 215.735.1600.

Grand Juries on Witness Intimidation Are Challenged

By: DBHWebGPEFF

The Legal Intelligencer — August 14, 2013

After the Pennsylvania Supreme Court restored the use of indicting grand juries for cases involving witness intimidation, the First Judicial District has been addressing a series of concerns about Philadelphia’s application of the charging tool. Several issues have become topics of discussion such as the defendant’s; access to the material presented to the grand jury and protecting the constitutional rights of witnesses who give incriminating testimony. Another issue is whether defendants will be held in jail for long periods of time while their cases go through the indicting grand jury process.

The Legal Intelligencer interviewed attorneys Michael Engle and Ron Greenblatt in a recent article, “Grand Juries on Witness Intimidation Are Challenged”. Greenblatt, Pierce, Engle, Funt & Flores attorneys Michael Engle with Ronald Greenblatt and other defense attorneys are challenging the validity of the Supreme Court’s authorization of indicting grand juries. They argue that the substantive rights of criminal defendants are affected and the change was not a matter that the court could enact in a procedural rule.

“While there is witness intimidation and it does occur, it doesn’t happen to the extent the commonwealth is making it out to be or that the judges are even buying into,” said Michael J. Engle, of Greenblatt, Pierce, Engle, Funt & Flores, in an interview. “It’s not as rampant as they are making it sound.”

Attorney Ronald Greenblatt added, “This crosses the line into fundamental unfairness.”

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Attorney James Funt on WHYY-FM Radio Discussing the Justice Gap 50 Years Since Gideon v Wainwright Ruling

By: DBHWebGPEFF

Attorney James Funt Adds Legal Perspective to Justice Gap Discussion Panel We are honored that WGP Attorney James Funt was selected to be part of a panel discussion on the WHYY-FM Radio Times show hosted by Marty Moss-Coane. Attorney Funt lent his expertise and legal perspective to a discussion that explored the challenges states are facing as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision 50 years ago that requires free legal representation in criminal cases for defendants who are unable to afford to pay their own attorneys. Attorney Funt pointed out that the Supreme Court decision led to the creation of public defenders offices throughout the country. “Some have done rather well, and the Philadelphia public defenders office is a model, and others aren’t doing so well. But all public defenders offices are faced with the constant issue of funding,” he noted. Host Moss-Coane called on Attorney Funt to give an overview of the events that led to the infamous Gideon v. Wainwright decision. As he explained, the case stems from the 1961 arrest of 51-year-old Clarence Earl Gideon for burglary of a Florida pool hall. Gideon was forced to represent himself in the courtroom after a lower court judge denied Gideon’s request for free representation by counsel, saying it was not a death penalty case. After being found guilty and sentenced to five years in prison, Gideon wrote to the Supreme Court from his prison cell and in 1963 successfully won his appeal in the Gideon v. Louie L. Wainwright, corrections director, ruling. It stated that under the Fourteenth Amendment, state courts are required to provide free legal counsel in criminal cases to those unable to afford their own attorney. Gideon’s burglary case went back to the lower court where he was assigned a lawyer. After hearing compelling evidence, the jury returned a not guilty verdict in less than an hour. As Attorney Funt pointed out during the live on-air panel discussion, “The great thing about the Gideon decision was that an uneducated man with literally a pencil scribing on prison stationary could have access to justice in the highest court of the land is a remarkable celebration of our access to justice by indigent people. The question now is how do we honor what he went through in order to finally get to where we believe we need to be in terms of access to justice for indigent folks?” A 2012 Rand study pinpoints challenges that include the availability of public funds and the competency of legal representation. In an analysis of homicide cases in Philadelphia, the study found that court-appointed attorneys did not have the same kind of outcomes as public defenders. The study further raised concerns of whether taxpayer monies are being wasted due to a lack of funding for quality representation. In Pennsylvania, individual counties decide how monies get disbursed. As Chairman of the Criminal Justice section of the Philadelphia Bar Association, Attorney Funt sees first hand the challenges faced by the courts, many of which stem from public and political perception. “The decision mandates that resources that were going somewhere else now have to be diverted towards poor people. That has created class warfare of sorts where poor people all are lumped together and vilified as just being criminals,” he explained. “And that becomes difficult for political will to fund cases when you have working people saying, ‘Why should I provide my tax dollars to some poor criminal. I have to pay for my own lawyer.’ There becomes a real difficulty in trying to divest ourselves from that internal debate to convince the powers that be to get adequate funds for specific cases. Akin to teachers, we have to teach people of the value of lawyers. We have to educate people to create the political will to fund the cases better.” In the end, the panel concluded that although a lawyer costs money, the cost-saving returns to society are so large that it far outweighs the cost of having a lawyer. Furthermore, the court system can do good work by respecting this fundamental right and making sure there is competent counsel, but also work smart by properly funding court-appointed legal representation, which in turn, saves taxpayers’ money through lower incarceration rates. Listen to the Panel Discussion on the WHYY-FM Radio Times show hosted by Marty Moss-Coane